Hard numbers: Germany is dropping nuclear power, (some) Americans justify anti-government violence, Mali’s election in danger, Scottish witches pardoned
Joe Biden: The asterisk president
Biden won more than 81 million votes in the 2020 presidential election, most of all presidential candidates in US history. Would it be enough to add a touch of legitimacy to his presidency after his predecessor alleged electoral disagreements?
The answer became urgently clear on January 6, 2021, when Trump-backing rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol, causing destruction and multiple deaths that will forever affect the balance sheet of American democracy.
Not only the rioters have their doubts. ONE new survey released Tuesday found that 71 percent of Republicans – a third of the nation – say they still don’t consider Biden’s victory to be legitimate.
The political polarization deepened further in the course of 2021 Covid vaccination – or not – has become a political statement. About 60 percent of the unvaccinated identify themselves as Republicans, compared to only 17 percent who are Democrats. This phenomenon is also reflected in very different perceptions of the state of economic recovery, which remain divided along party lines.
While Trump holds the GOP in a stranglehold, many Republican politicians are realizing that loyalty to the former president is the only way to ensure their continued political survival (just ask Congressman Liz Cheney, the REMOVED of her leadership position after rallying against the former president for promoting the Capitol uprising).
A Europe without Merkel
Angela Merkel has been the leading figure in Europe for the past 15 years as she led the EU through a number of challenges, including the eurozone sovereign debt crisis of 2009 and a massive wave of refugees in 2015 that sparked a populist tide across much of the US the continent.
Now that the wave of omicrones is rocking Europe, the challenges facing the Union are increasing. Will the promised economic relief, some of which was made possible by Merkel’s leadership, be effectively distributed in the coming years if the rolling bans continue? Who manages the EU’s relations with illiberal governments in Hungary and Poland whose COVID aid funds are dependent on constitutional reforms?
Indeed, France’s Emmanuel Macron had tried to position himself as Merkel’s rightful successor, but while Macron is focused on his own sticky re-election prospects in April, no one seems convinced – especially not outside of agitators like Russia’s Vladimir Putin, its aggressive military The Ukrainian border has become much bolder lately. Putin sees Merkel as a force to be reckoned with. It is a problem for Europe that no other leader has so much respect from the Kremlin.
US-China Relations: Tense but Could Be Worse
“After Trump’s departure, relations between the US and China will no longer be so openly confrontational,” wrote Eurasia Group analysts at the beginning of the year. That hasn’t quite turned out to be. President Biden has made fighting China his top foreign policy priority, while a new one summit between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden brought no breakthroughs.
The two sides remain at odds over trade, technology, Taiwan, the South China Sea and Xinjiang. In addition, Biden recently held a global democracy summit to isolate not only China, but those who befriend the emerging economic giant. Washington is also investing heavily in partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to create a bulwark against the further expansion of Beijing’s influence.
Still, both leaders have been mightily distracted by crises at home in the past 12 months (for China it was COVID and a free-falling real estate sector; for Biden, it’s COVID and, well, the near-collapse of large parts of his domestic agenda), disproving those who predicted a Cold War-type clash in 2021.
Latin America: backlash at the ballot box
The pandemic has exacerbated many of the social, economic and political problems that plagued the region for decades. Poor governance, poor infrastructure and economic instability have led to it by mid-2021, though only 8 percent of the world’s population, a third of all COVID deaths occurred in Latin America. That has changed in recent months with the expansion of vaccination campaigns.
Regionally, poverty and inequality have worsened – with the occupation Rate now 11 percentage points lower than in pre-pandemic times.
This ongoing economic deterioration has opened up an opportunity for political outsiders to capitalize on the disillusionment of established businesses. In Argentina, the ruling coalition led by the Peronist Party lost control of both houses of parliament for the first time since the restoration of democracy almost 40 years ago. In a similar show of frustration, the small Central American nation of Honduras recently overthrew President Juan Orlando Hernandez – who ruled the country for nearly a decade – in favor of a left that had never served in an elected office before. Meanwhile, Chileans, also disaffected by inequality exacerbated by the pandemic, recently voted over a 35-year-old former student activist.
Sigh … 2021 should actually be the year of hot Vaxx summer, Maskless holidays and unruly Christmas parties in the office. That should not be. We hope 2022 will be friendlier for all of us.
Watch out: On January 3, 2022, the Eurasia Group will publish the Top Risks Report of 2022.